WORCESTER, Mass. – Opening New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play on the road, the MIT men's basketball team came up with a successful conference debut, downing Clark University, 78-53. Junior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) led all players with 19 points for the Engineers, completing his first career double-double with a career-high 10 assists.
MIT (8-3, 1-0 NEWMAC) held Clark (5-7, 0-1 NEWMAC) to just a pair of free throws over the first six minutes of the game, jumping out to a 6-2 lead on a basket from senior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.). Senior Andrew Musler (Belmont, Mass.) put in the first two field goals for the Cougars, but the Engineers upped their advantage to 12-4 eight minutes in on a layup from sophomore Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.).
Clark pulled back within four midway through the half on a jumper from sophomore David Mercier (Milford, Mass.), but the Cougars had trouble solving the MIT defense, which held Clark to just 27 percent shooting in the half. After Mercier's bucket, the Engineers went on a 7-0 run that started with a three-point play from Frankel to take a 20-9 lead with six minutes left in the half. A dunk from Redfield and a trey from Butala highlighted the final minutes of the half for MIT as the Engineers pulled out to a 31-16 advantage at the break.
Two minutes into the second half senior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) and junior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) hit back-to-back three pointers that propelled MIT to a 39-18 lead. Clark made a quick 7-0 run five minutes into the half, with junior Corey Gomes (Uxbridge, Mass.) hitting on a pair of layups, to bring the Cougars back to within 14 at 41-27 with 14 minutes left.
That turned out to be as close as Clark would get, as senior Nicholas Prus (Arlington Heights, Ill.) nailed a trey to halt the Cougars run. With 11:38 to go Butala pushed the MIT lead back to 20 with layup and the Engineers were never challenged again. Clark improved its shooting to 54 percent in the second half, but MIT blistered the nets at a 79 percent rate to offset the improved shooting by the Cougars.
MIT finished the contest shooting a season best 62.5 percent from the floor. The Engineers finished with four players in double figures in the scoring column, led by Frankel's 19. Butala came off the bench to score 14 points and also led MIT with six rebounds. Levene and Pedley each added 11 points. Musler and Gomes both scored 12 points to lead Clark. Junior Tyler Huffman (West Hartford, Conn.) contributed 11 points, while sophomore Joe Atkinson (Milford, Mass.) led the Cougars with five rebounds and three assists.
Both squads will be back on the court Saturday, with MIT hosting WPI in Rockwell Cage at 2:00 p.m. while Clark visits Wheaton for a 3:00 p.m. tip.